Cosatu’s split is a good thing

2014-11-08 15:48

We grew up without medical aid, education funds or pensions – and trade unions stepped into the gap.

Without a bursary, my first year at university would have been extraordinarily hard; without a medical fund, my dad would not have had the basic care needed as a worker ages.

Later, Cosatu’s prominent role in the negotiations for a Constitution influenced the inclusion of clauses that have enabled many dreams to make my life and that of my family better.

Fair labour laws. Progressive social policies. Employment equity.

As a labour reporter, I imbibed values from the union movement that are still dear. These include internal democracy; negotiation skills and social compacting which frames the sectors of business, labour and civil society as equal players in a country.

But Cosatu’s split is good.

The weakening of the tripartite alliance is vital for the country as it is holding us back. Both Cosatu and the Alliance have atrophied and are unable to meet the challenge of modernity head-on.

Cosatu and its members have become a labour aristocracy (a self-interested elite) which stands against basic public goods like a youth employment incentive or government’s efforts to make the state capable.

The public sector unions – who rule the roost in Cosatu – hold us to ransom with low productivity and high demands.

The teachers’ union, Sadtu, is the single biggest factor retarding a final end to Bantu Education.

And, in the private sector, Cosatu affiliates hold strikes so violent that they have accelerated the trend to mechanisation.

Reading through union documents is like tripping the dark fantastic to outmoded Soviet days – if their wayward economics is ever implemented, a failed state is a serious risk.

Yet, Cosatu members are a proper middle-class: they reflect a dangerous disjuncture between word and deed.

A split and decline in Cosatu heralds the end of an important epoch but it holds shoots of new potential for South Africa.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


6 myths about male cancer

It is important to be aware of the most prevalent cancer diseases amongst men in our country.


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.